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Magma - mhnthtt-R CD (album) cover





4.24 | 574 ratings

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5 stars First released on:

This was the first Magma album I ever listened to, and it was a magical experience to listen to something as unique and mystic as this. Christian Vander, the mastermind behind Magma, is in top form here, being responsible not only of the outstanding drumming, but also of composing this wonderful piece of music. All members of this Magma incarnation give their best in this album, bringing to the table the best of them to fulfill Vander's perfectionist vision. The result is one of the best albums of the past decade, at least in my book.

The first three minutes work as an introduction, first with spoken words and then some classic Magma chanting surrounded by a very dense atmosphere created by the drums, the bass and the piano. Following this we have Stella Vander's beautiful vocals in the forefront accompanied by the piano and the choir sporadically singing with her. This section attracted my attention from the start; it is gorgeous what all this voices do together and the chemistry that the piano, drums and vocals achieve. Christian Vander is, as always, masterful in playing minimalist drum passages in this section. They are a great companion to the sheer beauty that we are witnessing.

As the first section of 'm'hnt'htt-R' ends, the Stella gives the main vocal duties to Christian. This transition always puts a joyful smile on my face; it is so amazing how naturally the composition flows from a more contemplative mood to this almost celebratory section. Section II of 'm'hnt'htt-R' has many moods, as it is more than 20 minutes long, but this first part is a favorite of mine. The bass is the star here flowing very nicely and playing the melody the vocals sing. All the elements the musicians display such passion and talent in section II, they all play as tightly as they can showcasing some of the most amazing musicianship I've had listened to in the process.

As said before, this first part of section II has a celebratory sound, which is mostly displayed by the beautiful and complex vocals, but also by the playful bass and guitar playing and the constant piano line which surprisingly is what gives rhythm to the song even more than the relentless almost schizophrenic drums. It ends in a blast of musical genius when the piano gets loose and shifts from playing the main repetitive melody it had been playing and plays a very beautiful melody to finish the first fourteen minutes of section II.

The last eight minutes are more somber and take the jazz elements from the first half to a more aggressive and urgent place. The darker tone is accomplished by the outstanding bass and the male vocals, which keep the listener on edge by building a tension that seems to be endless. The guitar and the drums create a delightful sense of madness and paranoia that is palpable throughout this whole section. It feels like a trip into the mind of a very insane person, and it is a real treat to listen.

As section II unravels, the choir introduces the third section with one of its most outstanding performances, a blast of vocal genius that leads to a very quiet and minimalist section with the drums, bass and piano displaying their talent for minimalism. The vocals then re-enter, with Stella in the forefront again, accompanied by the jazzy drums that displays its talents on minimalism and avant-garde in this part of section III. The song starts taking shape as the bass starts playing a repetitive riff that gives pace to the song. There is a ritualistic feel throughout section III that is reminiscent to section I but with the jazzy and relentless complexity of the ending part of section II.

By the middle of this section we have been witness to some of the most virtuosic display of avant-garde, not just by the usual incredible drums, but also by the bass when it gets loose from its main riff to give a master class on bass playing. The rhythm section is in top form throughout the thirteen minutes that compose this track, but this is not the only treat we get on it. The mysterious piano playing and the almost menacing vocals are of the highest quality and the guitar in the final part of the section also contributes to the overall feeling of apprehension this section portrays. In the end the chants come back as the song becomes faster and playful again as section III comes to a magnificent conclusion.

Section IV opens with the beautiful vocals of Stella Vander preparing us for what promises to be a gorgeous conclusion. The chants that follow are evocative of the ritualistic celebratory moments we have heard throughout the album. The piano is the main attraction here, with beautiful melodies that carry the section along with Stella's vocals. The section surprisingly also has its dark and its jazzy moments, but the general feel is calmed and melodic instead of the dissonance from before. The song ends in an enigmatic tone that leaves the listener baffled to what he has just listened to. In me, it created a need to go back to listen to this composition again and again until I could grasp all of its complexity and beauty.

'm'hnt'htt-R' is not the only composition we have here, even though it is the most important one. Fun'hrar'um Kanht works as a sort of funerary march with its dark and depressive tone. The vocals here are almost like Gregorian chants, and have a mournful feel. There is a very hard hitting piano accompanying the chants that make the feeling of dread the song has even more despairing. Finally S'h' is a short piece of spoken word that is surrounded by an obscure atmosphere that makes it very cryptic, leaving the listener puzzled by what it means.

As this was my first experience with Magma, which is one of my favorite bands, this record is very dear to me. This is a band that begs to be listened and acknowledged as the musical geniuses they are. This album is one more addition to the series of masterpieces of Magma's outstanding catalogue, and shows this incarnation at its best. This legendary ensemble has achieved here a level of maturity that establishes its status as one of the best in musical history, and confirms once again that Christian Vander is one of the most talented and creative composers of all time.

Roundabot | 5/5 |


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